A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed
....as Sophie Ellis Bextor so enchantingly crooned on her pre-fame lost classic with Theaudience. Although, being the kind of gobshite I am, I preferred the French-sung b-side “Une Pessimiste N’Est Jamias Decu”.
I think I’ve only just really cottoned on to the truth within one of the top football clichés – its the sign of a good team to win without playing really well. I used to always semi-think ‘isnt it just putting off the inevitable though, if you keep playing badly, you wont win for long’. But that’s the opposite of the point, which I take to mean now; you’re always going to have a bad run of form, so if you don’t drop many points whilst going through that, you wont have lost ground by the time you get it back on track. After Boxing Day last year, we struggled and ended up only winning 2 out of 8 games, and of the six where points were dropped, four should have been wins on paper.
So, to have won the last two matches without clicking anything more than intermittently is massive. Given we have two winnable home games coming up, we need to put false modesty aside a bit and go all out for two wins – that would put us on 40 points halfway through the season, and feasibly if not likely, top spot – which would be an unbelievable effort really.
I don’t think we will win the league, in fact, I’m not even sure if we’ll win against Sunderland on Boxing Day. Without ‘crying it in’ a lot of players have looked a little bit tired, slightly less than 100% in recent games and Martinez will be tempted to rotate a few for this match I think, given we are 24 points better-off than the opposition. We could see the likes of Stones and Naismith get a run out, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we struggled early on and maybe went a goal (or two) down before a rousing come-back. An enjoyable but missed chance 2-2 is one eventuality I think could transpire, but hopefully I’m being needlessly worrisome and, whatever line-up we go with, if we get the first goal here we should win with plenty to spare.
You would hope this is a good chance for Lukaku to get back on the score sheet after a few relatively insipid displays lately. He just doesn’t get into the game enough for my liking, and in the first half especially at Swansea failed to hold the ball up to the level required. As I’ve said before I think, I can see why Mourinho isn’t convinced. One thing that maybe isn’t helping him is the lack of competition given Jelavic’s bottoming-out. In pretty much every other area of the team the players Martinez has brought in have clearly kept players on edge knowing there are alternatives (and the fact that chances have often been taken: Ovideo, Osman when McCarthy was suspended v Fulham) but maybe the centre-forward is lacking that. Maybe though, he’s just had a dodgy couple of games and in a microcosm of the wider point, if his bad form coincides with two wins where he has at least contributed, then things could be far worse.
Last Season ~ Best When We’re Boldest
This was only just over twelve months ago this match, but seems much more remote than that by the manner in which we turned it round, with Fellaini & Jelavic being the undisputed ‘go to’ players to dig us out of a hole.
One has since obviously left and is apparently now out til February with a weird wrist/back in jury and the other is being talked about as being all packed up and just hanging on for the taxi to turn up to get him ‘away from here, anywhere but here!’ on 1st Jan.
But when Sunderland, under Martin O’Neill came to town last, they were vital to turning round the perennially under-performing Adam Johnson’s decent finish fractionally before half-time. In a switch that proved he wasn’t entirely beholden to the negativity which has become has main epitaph, Moyes must have even shocked himself by taking off Phil Neville (amazingly really, still starting in midfield at this moment in time) and throwing Vellios upfront with Jelavic and dropping back Fellaini a tad. Within five minutes we were ahead, the defence dragged enough out of their set positions to leave enough space for Fellaini to score quite an atypical run forward and low, swept finish into the bottom corner. Seemingly immediately afterwards, a good build up ended with a deft/lucky outside of the boot flick by the goals corer took two defenders out of the game ran perfectly for Jelavic – to empathises just how of a different era this was, he was never going to miss at this point and tucked it away first-time.
To get my ‘duh, you big duffus’ quota in are Moyes, he then thought ‘best get back to what wasn’t working’, replaced Jelavic with an alternative undynamic 30+ immobile midfielder in Thomas Hitzslperger and we were a bit lucky to not concede a late sickener to one of the most horrid players in the league, Carlos Cuellar in the last minute as we needlessly dropped deep and made things hard for ourselves.
That She Wore For the First Time Today – Poyet!Sunderland have managed to go to two such irksome characters in the time since that match that they’ve managed to give Martin O’Neill and his “oh, why meeeee! I have done everything correctly only to be thwarted by the fickle goddess of chance yet again!!” overwrought touchline dance when the opposition keeper makes a solid if unspectacular stop. I actually quite enjoyed his ‘last laugh’ press conference when he called Di Canio a managerial charlatan. The current boss man, Gus Poyet, at least managed to get through his first few days without being engulfed in a super-strength media furore.
In fact it actually seems like he should be a fairly sensible appointment, given that they seem very likely to go down and he has experience and knowledge of the Championship to do well next season. When you look at the bottom of the table (why would you though?) Sunderland are actually only 4 points away from getting out of the relegation zone, and if they won would go level on points with Fulham, who I don’t think will go down, but with the complete mismatch of a squad they’ve got, and having mustered 12 goals from 17 games, you wonder how they can not be planning for relegation.
Classic(s) ~Always Something There To Remind Me
In uber-negative mode, the 1996 match could be a harbinger of Everton fuck-ups past. Sunderland, who went on the be relegated, arrived at a sold-out and expectant Goodison with Everton flying high on the back of 6 wins in 7. Over-thinking selection (Ferguson dropped to the bench), over-confidence and a missed penalty combined in a totally unforeseen 1-3 reverse with a 45 year old Paul Bracewell man of the match and 11 year old Michael Bridges scoring the decisive goals. So when people say ‘bit cautious aren’t you, you could go top!’, this type of thing is why.
On the other hand, hopefully the game from Christmas 2008 will be more akin to what we get – a 3-0 stroll with 2 (yes fuck off dubious goals panel, 2, my records are what I go by, it was in the middle of the goals, how is that not on target??) from Arteta and a late tap-in from Dan Gosling. I remember saying to the owner of this site (The Vincent Tan of LOT) that I thought he was a better prospect than Rodwell at that time and that he could end up as a Frank Lampard-esque goal-getting centre midfield stalwart.
That would class as a bad call I think, and in fact the other sub from this match, in his only ever Everton appearance, Lukas Jutckiewz could even probably argue he’s made a better career for himself than Gosling.
McCabe And Mrs Miller ~ 1971A classy affair, you’d expect nothing else would you with Robert Altman directing, Leonard Cohen partially sountracking, and The Big Fella & Julie Christie in the lead roles. What the film aims for, and hits perfectly, above all else is to capture a mood and an atmosphere of the wintry ‘old west’. Beatty’s character McCabe begins as a small-time celebrity among a gaggle of bearded losers huddled around a card table in a wooden inn. The story quickly moves on to establish the fact that he is in the process of setting up his own town/settlement, although this consists mainly of ragged tents, mud, three unfortunates dragged along as prostitutes and his unshaped dreams.
Not long afterwards, his vision is added to be Christie’s Mrs Miller who arrives with a harem of ‘better class’ ladies for the townsfolk and understandable plans to create some kind of workable structure to the village – a bathhouse, saloon and café/inn are created and furnished in short-order and a handsome profit begins to be created after an uneasy business partnership is launched.
Not long afterwards, things turn irrevocably badly after McCabe ineptly tries to haggle with the representatives of speculators wishing to buy him out and take-on the community and land (which is rich in oil), and all concerned come to a cold, snow-swept, bleak end.
Although masterfully done in places, I personally thught there was a tiny bit too much emphasis on the overall vibe, and chances to develop subplots and minor characters were missed at the expense of this. The scenes where McCabe has to negotiate with the pseudo-lawyers Sears (played by Michael Murphy (Manhattan)) & Butter, and then his meetings with the fearsome 7” ‘negotiator-cum-assassin’ sent in their steed and city lawyer later on are fantastic – tense & funny at the same time – but come and go a bit quickly. For that I gave it a 3.5, but, as ever, other opinions are available, and I can see where people rating it higher are coming from : http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-mccabe-and-mrs-miller-1971
Numb ~ 2007Its probably fair to say that this little movie where Matthew Perry struggles to come to terms with chronic depression will never be pawed over in the same way as the above, but depite being insubstantial I found it much better than expected. With the exception of the affront to all decency that is Serving Sara, I am low-level fan of Perry’s fairly infrequent film carrer and he is a better actor than given credit for.
The parts of this film that are allowed to bump along slowly and linger on his character’s self-loathing are strong and believable, but it is let down by the bits that try to be crude, lewd and amusing – having the writer from Deuce Bigalow and the abysmal Without A Paddle really doesn’t help in this regard.
The relationships (both the ‘love of his life’ and sudden fling with a psychiatrist) are nicely done and overall the story remain coherent all the way through. With my Perry-tinged glasses on, I like to think this could have been very entertaining if given a more serious screen write and a bit more time. It’s a ‘good 2’ though, based on what it actually is like, which you kind of have to take into consideration….
Exciting to see Perry on Newsnight last week by the way too, holding his won pretty well against an ostentatiously ostentatious Peter Hitchens. A step closer to fulfilling one of my most dearly longed for hopes in life; for him to appear on another BBC current-affairs programme. Imagine him presenting Have I Got News For You! It’d be absolutley immense.
The Shipping News ~ 2001
Re-watched this recently and found it far better than when I initially viewed it as part of my Kevin Spacey obsession, this time looking more at the film as a whole.
Firstly though, thank god he is in it. The rest of the cast read a bit like a roll-call of people who can either be very watchable or be in the most annoying films going, and quite a few of them are in more irksome mode here. According to IMDB John Travolta was initially down to play Quoyle, which one imagines would have taken this down a very different and less subtle route.
As it is, Spacey bangs on the weight to take the role of a pretty finished and emotionally spent single-father who re-locates to Newfoundland and gradually edges his self-esteem and life back on track with a new job (writing about boats for the local paper) and nicely played extra-tentative relationship with the local school teacher (Julianne Moore). There is a far greater supernatural undercurrent than I remembered, and some of this backfires in a quite amateur manner – the trope of a bearded, haunted looking long-lost relatively stalking the area and living in a secret cabin is an especially low-point. Judi Dench, after being praised here for Philomena, is at her worst here in parts, with a very shaky accent and an ‘indefatigable strong woman’ gimmick that wears thin very quickly (barring a couple of good scenes with Spacey).
Good points just about outweigh the bad though, and Spacey puts just enough in to help the calm, watery-blue, ‘lets all have a cup of tea’ ambience win through. You’d have to be a right misery to not enjoy and be made-up for his character in the scenes where he wins his editor over and ‘has off’ Pete Postlethwaite in their battles over his columns for the paper anyway. 2.5.
White Christmas ~ 1954
You have to love Woolton Picturehouse and its retro ambiance, which made this a thoroughly enjoyable experience (even if the obligatory interval here was less than ideal with a 2pm start time and a 4pm Everton kickoff….).It’d be a steadfastly rational rveiwer to not allow a bit more leeway to a film when seeing a special Chrsitams screening with their girlfriend in an atmospheric throwback cinema and to treat it the same as an 11am , day off work DVD viewing.
Even accounting for that genoristy I was a pleasantly taken with the film's coherence and the fact that there is, albeit loosley and failry lkacking in tension or jeaporday, a plot. More than I had previoulsy imagined anyway (I imagined its synposis was 'Peoiple stand outside and it snows. Hilarity ensues'). Even some of the dance numbers were watchable - although the "snooooooow" song where the four leads are on a train is an total clunker and interferes with a nicley building bit as the curmudgeeonly Bing Crosby begins to incrementally warm to the idea of getting into Rosemary Clooney.
The overarching narratives of enduring defference to military, good ol' America & camply rendered light entertainment are just about kept in check, and the big tune near the end Love You Didnt Do Right By Me is terrific. Its another 2.5, but obviulsy that's weighted towards a festive viewing.
Well, it dfeinitley doesn't look like there's going to be a repeat of the most annoying things ever when the Boxing Day game got called off in 2010, I've had a few advocaat's and the bit above written in work yesterday sounds a bit negative really - come on Everton, let's batter these.